Mixologist

Years ago I was reading a book about Attention Deficit Disorder and one of the things she talked about was not to always be negative about the things you struggle with. She recommended trying to put a positive spin on things. For example, don’t dwell on being bad at organization, but consider that you are really good at taking things apart and rearranging them.

I wish I was able to remember what book it was so I could go back and find out what word she used. It was a specific word for that creative disorder and reorder that some of us are so good at. It may have been an art term, but I haven’t come across it in my art studies. Over the last few years, I’ve tried to look it up in other places because I feel that as an artist and as a human my main function is to blur those lines of demarcation that are so boldly etched between divisive labels, categories, or so-called boxes.

Many (uh, all) of the these divisions are not as clear cut as you might think. There is a lot of crisscrossing and overlap if you only look a little harder. People and things that don’t fit strongly into a clearly marked box are often overlooked or rejected in favor of clarity and ease of description. Which is fine if you are willing to reject reality. Because the truth is that messy and disordered and uncategorizable is the essence of life. In life, in art, in science, and in nature you can always find things and people and behaviors that don’t follow the mainstream and the usual “rules.”

I feel that a militant stance on any one rule or set of rules usually covers a fear of the unknown and where you might fit into that unknown, new hierarchy if the status quo is status quashed. Take, for example,  Art vs Craft. I understand the need to elevate the role of the artist to something beyond the ordinary. I benefit highly from that distinction and do not treat it cavalierly. The trouble comes when an artist, or a fine craftsman, as they like to say, takes skill and imagination to a place that is not inside those categories, but somewhere in the middle. I wield glue nearly as often as I do a brush or pencil. Other artists use what are traditionally considered crafts in such new and innovative ways, or at such a “high level” that they bump Craft into the category of Art.

There is plenty of room inside Art for everything. For all of it.

When I was a teen I was in love with the bartender character in the movie Cocktail. I was planning to do what he did. Bartend in the islands somewhere during the winter and back here the rest of the time. After a detour or two, I did eventually become a bartender. While I wasn’t the jetsetting bartender that I had envisioned, I did learn about mixing and pouring drinks and some of what it takes to run a bar.

I wasn’t a bad bartender. But, to be honest, I am not quite social enough to do it for very long before I get burned out. Some people are hardwired in a way that makes them ideal for it.  A really good bartender is one part accountant, one part scientist, and three parts showman, with a shot of flair and a splash of crazy. Mix with ice, shake, pour and watch the magic unfold.

But they don’t all invent new drinks. I think that a mixologist is a bartender who can envision how things might taste together and tinkers and tries it until it comes to fruition. This way of seeing is a unique gift to have. The ability to look out past the is to the can be and then to follow your line of sight out into the future is kinda magical.

That’s why I’ve decided that I already have my word for someone who mixes, blends, blurs, connects, rearranges, reassembles, remakes, creates, invents, explores, and just generally muddles things around until they are a new being.
I am a mixologist.

Bar’s open.

Rural Life Lesson #246:Gates

There’s an old joke (It’s possible it’s a riddle or a something else.). It goes something like this:

Three guys are riding along in a pickup truck. How do you know who is the wisest ranch hand?

The one in the middle. Because he doesn’t have to drive and he doesn’t have to jump in and out to open the gates.

I don’t actually live on a ranch, but I have spent enough time around horse farms and barns to be able to say, with great certainty, that good fences make good horses. We have had a failure of a couple of our fences here at our place and so our horses currently have the run of the place including right up to the gate to exit the property. Aside from the fact that they get into all kinds of things that they shouldn’t (that used to be safely on the other side of a fence and THANK GOD THEY DON’T HAVE HANDS), they can sometimes make it hard to leave or enter without risking an escape attempt. They aren’t especially trying to leave. It’s just that the grass is greener where you haven’t eaten it yet and, sometimes, given an opportunity in the form of an open gate, they will walk through it looking for greener pastures, or whatever beckons on the other side.

One of my chief symptoms of my ADD is that I am particularly challenged by transitions. I am strongly bound by Newton’s Laws of Inertia. What I mean is that first, it’s hard for me to get started on a task or project. (an object at rest, no?)

Then, once I get going it’s often hard for me to stop or leave off. (an object in motion, see?)

It’s also really hard for me to smoothly switch directions or roles quickly. I require an adjustment period to get my mind’s compass reoriented. (This is still in the category of ‘an object in motion’, but has more to do with the part about being ‘acted upon by another force’, I think. You can imagine my brain as a large truck. Slow to start off, takes a longer distance to stop, and needs a large turning radius.)

The things I’ve learned with the horses and their gates and with my own gateways and transitions are these:

1. Recognise that they are a barrier that you are going to have to deal with. Understanding that it is an issue for you goes a long way toward mitigating the effects of the problem. In school, I learned that I needed to arrive at my classes at least 15 minutes early in order to have time to get mentally prepared to think about the class and the topic at hand. If I did not have that time, the first few minutes of class were not very useful because my mind will take the time it needs regardless. It’s just better to give it the time beforehand. With regard to the gates here on the property, remembering to leave a couple (or a few) minutes early so that we can negotiate our exit strategically is a sound plan and one that keeps us from freaking out from having to hurry and having things go wrong (as they inevitably will) doesn’t ruin our plans nearly as often.

2. Be prepared for trickery. Often we are able to just drive down to the gate, open it, and leave with very little hassle. Sometimes, the horses are less helpful and we need to do something to get them to back off from the gate. Usually this is just a little bit of hay or grain offered a fair distance away from the gate so that they are busy for a few minutes while we make our getaway.  Do what you need to do to make things easier for yourself. Set timers a few minutes before you need to end a task so it doesn’t come as as much of a shock. Make sure other people know that they should  give you a heads up and or a count down a few minutes early. My son knows that if he comes up and interrupts me to get me to do something, he will be met with resistance. But if he says, can we do such-and-such at x time? he will get a much better response. (Unfortunately we’ve had to figure this out through trial and error. Learn from me, people!)

3. Try not to do it by yourself. It’s infinitely harder to get through the gate smoothly by yourself. It’s a lot of moving parts and variables to works by yourself. It can lead to a lot more frustration and running around. The best case scenario is to have systems in place that eliminate much of the stress of the transition. Ideally, with physical gates, you have two gates with enough room to park between them so that you can pull in, shut the gate behind you, then open the gate in front of you to allow your egress without much bother. More ideally, you have people working those gates for you so you don’t have to clamber in and out and around to complete all of the steps.

Less ideally, you only have one gate, but you have a person or two to open and close it for you so that it’s smoother, easier, and there’s less chance of things going awry. The truth is that sometimes things are just going to fall into the worst case scenario and all the systems in the world can’t help that. Then you need a plan. What to do if the horses aren’t occupied elsewhere. Which way to open the gate for best outcome. (Up (for us, here), if you’re interested.) How to have timed your arrivals and/or departures to have help around.

For your mental maneuverings, the same applies. Try very hard to have systems with timers and calendars in place. Make sure people know to allow to time to get through the gate, to remind you of upcoming stops or starts.

In the worst case scenario, remember that with a little patience, and maybe a little trickery, you will, no doubt, get through to the other side.

Friday Falafel* Five

Here is this week’s offering of great posts that I’ve read. I hope you’ll click through and give them a read or a look.

ADD and Autism

 

http://momnos.blogspot.com/2013/04/our-kind-of-autism-awareness.html (autism awareness)

http://www.diycouturier.com/post/47249603128/21-tips-to-keep-your-shit-together-when-youre (depression)

http://www.theatlanticwire.com/national/2013/04/its-different-girls-adhd/63746/ (ADHD in girls)

 

Kindness and Love

 

http://www.kindovermatter.com/2013/04/through-lens-of-kindness.html (kind photography)

http://mad.ly/68e5a3 (you deserve love)

http://www.kindovermatter.com/2013/04/only-connect.html (making connections is what it’s all about)

 

Creativity

http://99u.com/articles/14599/the-5-most-dangerous-creativity-killers (make a change, if necessary)

 

Equality, Freedom and Poverty

 

http://www.upworthy.com/history-may-not-remember-this-speech-but-i-guarantee-that-you-will?c=ufb1 (equal rights in marriage (video))

http://www.upworthy.com/its-hard-enough-convincing-some-women-they-need-feminism-so-when-a-dude-gets-it?c=ufb1 (equal rights in gender)

http://billmoyers.com/content/slideshow-poverty-in-todays-america/ (photos of poverty in america)

 

*The falafel is in there because it makes about as much sense as me continuing to say FIVE every week.

ADD like me

Here is a really good radio interview about how ADD is different between males and females.

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/attentiontalkradio/2011/12/15/adhd-how-it-manifests-differently-in-girls-and-women

It’s about 45 minutes long.

The biggest little things.

I’ll tell you about a pet peeve of mine.

It was first something that I read when I was much younger and my brothers were diagnosed as having ADD, one with and one without the H. There is a tendency to identify yourself or your child as being ADD.

I just read it again in a comment on an ADD article. The commenter said, “I am ADD and my son has ADHD.” There is a world of difference in the perception of being ADD versus having ADD.

If I say I am ADD, that seems to leave very little room for anything else. That it is the single most important thing about me and that it defines me as a person. I admit that sometimes it feels that way because it is so pervasive in how it affects our lives. But it doesn’t define us.

If I say I am ADD and I’m a mom, an artist, a writer, a…whatever then I am giving it more power and precedence than it deserves.

Instead, let me say that I am a mom, and artist, a writer and I have ADD.

If I had a different disability such as an injured leg, that’s not the info I would lead with when introducing myself.

I am a limp and an artist and a mom.

Better to say that I am an artist and a mom and I have a limp. Wouldn’t you agree?

These are small things. But these small things are added up over time to become big things. Especially when they are how you are describing your child. Little pitchers have big ears, don’t forget. They are listening and they are taking your cue as to what is the most important property about them in your description of them.

In other news, this is my 300th post. So, my non-follow-through-ADD-parts have so far not won the war against having a blog.

Hurrah!

Now here are some random photos:

 

 

 

 

 

That is my kid and my aunt in the matching bus!

The Camera’s Focus

I take a ton of pictures. I mean, really a lot. For example, I received a new camera for my birthday in March. It keeps a running tally of the pictures and numbers the photos accordingly. We are getting really close to 9000. I thank my lucky stars that somebody invented the digital camera. I would not be able to feed my camera addiction without it. Aside from the prohibitive cost,film cameras from shot to print was always too many steps for me to get done. I will say in my defense that a lot of those pictures happened because I take a lot of pictures of Child C playing sports. I set my camera on continuous so it will keep taking pictures as long as I hold down the button. That way I can maybe get a shot of the action. But I get a lot of extra shots, too. The ones right before or after the one good one. But I was always frustrated by missing the shot and this way I don’t nearly as often.See?

What you don’t see is the seven more shots of the splash that continued after this. So I claim the 9000 number to be an inaccurate portrayal of my picture obsession. (Let’s not bring up the fact that I also take photos on my phone, ok?)

Having a camera, for me, can help me to bridge a gap that I might feel in a social setting. It’s gives me something to be doing besides making small chat. Or, it can give me something to chat about so I don’t have to think up something else. Occasionally, it gives me an excuse to offer an invitation to friend someone on Facebook when I otherwise might not have the nerve to ask them. It can give me a little breathing room as well. Offering me a filter through which to view things when I need a little space. I’ve known that the camera I carry is more than just a picture taking machine for me for a while now.

I just realized last week, however, that I also use this device in another way. Last week I forgot my camera at home (the horror!). I found that it was really difficult for me to keep my attention on the game the whole time. It was just too long and there were too many other things going on for me to keep from being distracted. When I was younger, I always had a book in my hand in case I needed something to do. Now I carry a camera or (and) a smart phone to fill the same need. (Scrabble for Android, I’m talking to you.) I realized that I borrow the camera’s focus so that I don’t miss the game. I know that sometimes I don’t see everything when I’m looking through the camera lens. The world is a wide open space and the viewer box cannot see all of it. But I think it’s a fair trade to put on some blinders to be able to see what I need to focus on.

 

 

There’s No Such Thing as Casual Reading

At least not for me.

I checked out a book from the library the other day. I haven’t checked anything out since Spring Break because I can’t afford to spend homework time in a book. And, of course, I know I will. So, I’m reading this book and it feels nice to just sit and read for a change and it’s been so long…

My son came over while I was engrossed in reading to try to get me to do something with him/for him. I resisted and found myself getting snappy with him over having to stop. That’s when I remembered why and when I stopped seriously reading. It was when he was a little guy and I realized that I was capable of postponing all sorts of important things in order to just finish this chapter, which would lead to another chapter, which would lead to–well, I’m sure you get the idea. So, I stopped. Except for the occasional brief foray back.

One of my big ADD symptoms is difficulty with transitions. Stopping what I’m doing to do something else is really difficult for me. Much like little children often need a preparatory countdown (Ok, Johnny, we’re going to be leaving in 10 minutes, then 5, then 2, etc.) to ease the surprise of having to quickly change gears from playing to leaving, I need similar warning. My son and I have unofficially arranged something like this. I’m not sure he knows we do it.

But, I’m not sure it would work with reading.

Because I don’t read casually. My standard operating procedure with a book is to sit down and read it until it’s done. I devour books. It turns out that they devour me right back. I read quickly. So quickly it’s kinda ridiculous. Most books take a day for me to get through. Maybe two if I try to pace myself. So I’m effectively out of commission for two days if I get a new book.

It’s funny, a lot of people with ADD don’t read very well. In fact, I was reluctant to believe that I had ADD because I do read so well. Then I came across one book that mentioned that some of us, especially with inattentive type, use books, TV, and the internet as escapism in much the same way that others use dangerous, high adrenaline producing behaviors to get a rush and fire up our sluggish brains.

For me, reading is not casual and neither is my son.

I traded books for him because sometimes I know exactly where I should focus my attention.

ADD & Loving it?!

My friend was watching this on PBS last night and found a link to the trail for it.

I’m going to have to watch it. She said it was very informative!

http://totallyadd.com/totallyadd-loving-it-trailer/

ADHD Awareness Week

http://www.chadd.org/AM/Template.cfm?Section=Home&TEMPLATE=/CM/HTMLDisplay.cfm&CONTENTID=18197

As a person who struggles with ADD, I can’t stress the importance of getting diagnosed and getting help for it.